Woman to woman : female friendship in Victorian fiction /
Tess Cosslett.
Atlantic Highlands, NJ : Humanities Press International, 1988.
vii, 211 p. ; 23 cm.
0391035916 :
More Details
Atlantic Highlands, NJ : Humanities Press International, 1988.
0391035916 :
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. 199-204.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1988-12:
Cosslett applies techniques of modern feminist critical theory in order to explore the changing meaning of women's friendship as it figured in the work of various Victorian novelists and poets. The study is original; little or no work has been done in this field, despite Janet Todd's extensive work for the 18th century, Women's Friendship in Literature (CH Oct '80). A possible reason for this may lie in the nature of the Victorian novel itself, which tended to conclude with marriage of the heroine, or the prospect of marriage, as a societal ideal. Cosslett does not interpret female friendship as an impediment to marriage, but rather as a crucial element, a turning point in the structure of the works that employ that device. Female friendships are often responsible for assimilating "each other to marriage, by resolving plot complications." In five chapters, Cosslett explores rebellious women versus those who conform; "pure" and "fallen" women; simple heroines and those of fashion who compete through beauty; female friendship as central to the narrative structure of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley; the "New Woman" in the novel, where "strong female friendship is longed for. . .but never achieved." Cosslett is well read, the range of allusion is broad, particularly among lesser-known female Victorian novelists; Elizabeth Gaskell is discussed in detail. A fine, up-to-date bibliography on works of modern feminist criticism is provided. Levels: graduate and upper-division undergraduate. -R. T. Van Arsdel, emerita, University of Puget Sound
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 1988
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